The Grains Research and Development Corporation’s (GRDC) Northern Regional Panel recently toured grain growing regions in northern NSW to speak with growers about what was keeping them awake at night and where they would like to see their levy money be directed in 2018.
High on the list of concerns for growers was the effect of herbicide resistance, crown rot management, and the need for improved heat tolerance in winter and summer cereal crops.
Listening to growers and visiting GRDC research investments were key elements of the Panel’s fact-finding tour through the summer cropping areas of Moree, Crooble, Bellata, Mullaley, Narrabri and Breeza.
Led by grain grower and chair of the GRDC Northern Panel John Minogue, the 11-member advisory panel and GRDC northern regional staff met with growers, researchers, agronomists and other industry stakeholders to gain a greater understanding of constraints on and opportunities for improving farm profitability.
Mr Minogue said the Panel had a critical role collecting and relaying information back to the GRDC about the challenges facing growers across the northern region, and their current research needs and priorities.
“Each year we do two tours across different areas of NSW and Queensland cropping regions to liaise directly with industry,” he said.
“As a panel it is important we create these opportunities to engage directly in a two-way conversation that helps us develop an in-depth understanding of the regional constraints to farm profitability.”
Mr Minogue said issues raised by growers and agronomists during the tour included the need to reduce the risk of spray drift, the effect of the unseasonably dry summer, heat tolerance in summer and winter cereals, the effectiveness of current herbicides and the challenges of managing crown rot.
“Growers and agronomists in all the regions we visited raised concerns about the longevity of current herbicides and the need for non-chemical options into the future, which continues to be an important investment area for the GRDC,” Mr Minogue said.
“In the Moree region we visited a grower experimenting with autonomous weed technology and investigating plant recognition software, which gave the Panel an insight into how some of this new technology can work in the paddock.”
Mr Minogue said the GRDC understands the challenge posed by herbicide resistance and continues to invest significantly in targeted research, development and extension (RD&E) to deliver genetic solutions, as well as tools and information to improve weed control.
“This is a tough issue for growers and agronomists and the GRDC is working to ensure they have access to the latest research data so they can make informed management decisions on-farm when it comes to managing herbicide resistance, prolonging chemical life and examining options for integrated weed management.”
On the summer cropping front Mr Minogue said there was positive feedback about the GRDC’s sorghum National Variety Trials from growers, agronomists and researchers visiting the trial site at Mullaley.
“We were impressed by the first year of sorghum NVT and believe they will provide valuable information about variety performance to the growers and agronomists,” Mr Minogue said.
The GRDC Northern Panel also visited the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Research Station at Breeza to look at the latest summer crop research, as well as the Plant Breeding Institute (PBI) in Narrabri to hear about developments in winter cereal and chickpea breeding.
“It was invaluable to see and hear firsthand about GRDC investments into research, but the most vital part of this tour was engaging with local growers and we genuinely appreciate them giving up their time to meet and talk with the GRDC Panel and staff.”